Legal Filings

Legal Filings
Apr 23, 2013

CREW Signs Amicus Brief Against OLC Secret Laws

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Today, CREW joined a host of open-government groups in signing an amicus brief supporting the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in their lawsuit against the Department of Justice.

In the brief, it's stated that:

The Department of Justice’s efforts to withhold, in their entirety, legal memos prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) are contrary to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Department’s own guidance, as well as the views of former heads of OLC. By withholding these legal opinions, which direct the actions of the government and impact private parties, the Department is establishing secret law that is antithetical to democratic governance. Because OLC opinions are binding legal authority, they do not fall within FOIA Exemption 5. Because legal analysis does not meet the strict requirements for classification, OLC opinions may not be withheld in their entirety under Exemption 1.

The case for disclosure is clear. The publication of OLC opinions has promoted public discourse, fostered government oversight, and led to wellinformed policy decisions. Given our democratic heritage, constitutional values, and statutory rights, the Government should not be permitted to issue law in the shadows.

Read the full brief submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

UPDATE 4/22/2014:
2nd Circuit Appeals Court orders disclosure of redacted "targeted killings" OLC opinion